Parents Spend More Time With Kids, Study Finds

May 9, 2001 -- Guilt-ridden moms and dads take heart — a new study reports that parents are spending more time with their kids than they did two decades ago.

Parents spent four to six more hours each week with their kids in 1997 as compared to 1981, according to the new University of Michigan study.

The study, which examined two-parent families with children ages 3 to 12, contradicts the popular conception that parents today see less of their kids.

"One of the motivating reasons behind this research has been popular conception that we don't spend enough time with our children," said lead researcher John Sandberg, a sociologist at the university's Institute for Social Research.

"We wanted to see if that was actually true, and at least in this one small respect, it appears not to be."

Dads, Bad Traffic Make a Difference

The study found the increase was due, in part, to more involved dads.

"There has been a shift in norms toward more involved fatherhood, and more involved parenting in general," Sandberg said.

Strangely enough, traffic was also a factor in the increase. As parents ferry kids to after-school and weekend activities, they spend a lot of time in the car together.

The study wasn't surprising to parents like Mike Heins, a married father of three who lives in the Boston area.

Heins works full time, but manages to coach two baseball teams for his 10- and 11-year-old sons.

By trading off parental obligations with his wife, Heins says "I think we do have a little bit more time to spend with the kids."

ABCNEWS' Pam Coulter and Carl Stevens contributed to this report.